They always say that first impressions matter. And if that’s true, then Giancarlo Stanton has nothing to worry about in the Bronx. Last year’s NL MVP basically picked up where he left off last year with the Marlins and promptly showed off his power, assuring Yankee fans everywhere that Stanton is no “big fish in a small pond” but rather just a big fish in any pond.
For their opening series this year, the Yankees get to begin on the road again with a 4-game series in Toronto. And it was a soggy, chilly early Spring day in “Muddy York“, inside Rogers Centre with the roof closed, it was a nice 68° for all the Opening Day ceremonies. This included all the introductions as well as a special tribute to a former player Rusty Staub, who passed away early this morning after a long illness. Staub was a 23-year veteran, 6-time All-Star, and Mets Fan Favorite, plus his postcareer was spent in the service of others specifically through the New York Police and Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund. He was everyone’s friend and a genuine good guy. He will be missed.
And then it was time for “play ball”. It is worth noting that the Yankees haven’t won an Opening Day since 2011, but like every year, the hopes were high. But this year, the Yankees certainly didn’t disappoint. In the 1st inning, Brett Gardner reached base on a fielding error to start things off for the Yankees. Then with 1 out, Stanton made his first impression as a Yankee last with a huge 2-run home run into the right field seats.
The Yankees certainly were hitting this afternoon throughout the game, getting a total of 11 hits overall. But their next opportunity to score some runs was in the 5th inning. With 2 outs, Judge worked a walk and then scored on Stanton’s double. Stanton then scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. Brett Gardner got in on the action with a lead-off solo home run in the 7th. And not to put too fine of a point on his first impression, Stanton added one more run with his 9th inning, 2-out absolutely no-doubter home run up the middle.
Add all that offense behind a “SevySharp” day, and the Yankees have set a standard for the season. Luis Severino’s start was just stellar. He threw 91 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up just 1 hit and 3 walks, but no runs and 7 strong strikeouts. Chad Green continued his strong start, closing out the 6th and through the 7th inning with 3 strikeouts of his own. Dellin Betances gave up a 1st pitch solo shot in the 8th to get the Blue Jays on the board, but then barreled through the next 3 batters. And Aroldis Chapman’s 9th inning 10 pitches was just a perfect end to a great day.
Final score: 6-1 Yankees
It’s worth noting that Stanton is the 19th Yankee (since 1961) to hit a home run on his 1st at-bat as a Yankee. The two just before him were Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge (#17 and #18, respectively) on August 13, 2016. However, he was the first Yankee to do so on an Opening Day since April 4, 2010 (that was Curtis Granderson, who is coincidentally now on the Blue Jays). And his 2nd home run was hit at a velocity of 117.3 mph, the hardest hit ball since they started measuring such things, which also makes it the fastest home run to “get out of the park”.
Now that he’s packed into the lineup between other Yankee power hitters Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, believe me that we will be talking so much about these things, setting new records and discussing things like velocity, distance, and just awe-inspiring highlight reel worthy moments.
And if you’re wondering, long-time Yankees radio announcer John Sterling is known for his creative home run calls. And his newest one for Stanton is definitely facing mixed reviews. What do you think? Not sold just yet, but there will be time to get used to it.
But one game, one win down. 161 left.